Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turbine Rust

A long time ago, waaaay back in the day when I was a true photography student (and not just the lazy digital photographer that I am now), I became fascinated with texture. So much of the time, when we look at an object we only see the color and shape. We miss the texture. We miss the fine points. I love taking pictures of texture.

The rust trails you see here are seeping out of a turbine that was once used in Bonneville Dam. It created electricity for us. It worked and served some awesome purpose, and now it's rusting not too far from the dam where it once lived. You can see one of the propellers up toward the top right of the photo. The paint peeled and chipped and was painted over, and it now has that bubble finish you see. The colors, too, are fantastic. From red to yellow, even some green in there. This was too good to pass up snapping photos of... I'd love to go back and get a few more.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Little Bits

I bought a new swimming suit last night. 50%-off sales at Fred Meyer plus a desperate need for a suit that fits correctly meant I was determined. It's blue, black, and white, and I swear I don't look like a giant bruise when I'm wearing it. Oh, and it's a two-piece. Because I'm a grown-up and don't hang out of the darn thing like I probably will in the next five years.

The Boy and I are in the middle of our allergy season, so we're sneezing in unison now. Whenever we are at one of our apartments, we sit on the couch with the kleenex box between us. We are so terribly romantic, I tell ya. And when we aren't tandem sneezing, we're sniffling and blowing our noses constantly. Allergies suck!

This afternoon, I spent about an hour going through father-daughter dance songs. Just about every suggested song I have found is ultra sappy and makes me cry. I'm having a hard time finding a nice "celebratory" song that is also a foxtrot or waltz. Nothing to slow, just moderate and fun. I would like a country song, but it needs to be a contemporary foxtrot, not a country two-step. Or, we could dance to a swing song (foxtrot works great for slow swing), but I don't want it to be sappy. "Unforgettable" is too slow. Suggestions appreciated!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Random Questions XIII

What curse word do you use the most?
Damn

Do you own an iPod?
No. And I don't really want one. I don't listen to music much.

Who on your MySpace "Top 8" do you talk to the most?
I don't even use MySpace, so I'll go with The Boy or my sister.

What time is your alarm clock set for?
7:00, 7:10, and 7:30, and yes, sometimes it takes all three

What color is your room?
walls are white, just like every house I've ever lived in

Flip flops or sneakers?
sneakers. I can't stand things between my toes!

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
I enjoy both, honestly. I like taking pictures, but I also like being in them.

What was the last movie you watched?
Night at the Museum

Do any of your friends have children?
um, no? I forget.

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
my parents mostly

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
No, but sometimes Benadryl makes me sleepy so I take a nap.

What CD is currently in your CD player?
Scott Grimes' Livin' on the Run (yeah, still!)

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
oooh chocolate milk is hard to pass up if it's really cold

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
I don't think so.

Have you ever given someone a hickey?
I can honestly say no to that. At least, I don't think so.

Who was the last person to call you?
Emily

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
Of course. I talk about me behind my back, c'mon.

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Yes. I still do. All the time. Even yesterday.

Are you shy around the opposite sex?
Not really, no. Now that I nabbed Mr. Wonderful, I think it's safe to say I am not shy.

What movie do you know every line to?
The Negotiator

Do you own any band t-shirts?
I can't even name any bands, so no. Other than high school band t-shirts that we had to wear during band stuff, no. And I think I chucked all of those.

Do you read for fun?
I read to learn, to grow, to explore, and sometimes for fun.

Do you cry a lot?
Not especially. I have loosened up a bit and express myself emotionally better now than I used to, but still, not so much on the crying bit.

Who was the last person to text message you?
The Boy to tell me he was on his way to see me. :)

Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
Desktop PC. I'm thinking laptop Mac next... ugh!

Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
Nope.

What is the weather like?
gonna be a hot one today, grrr. I miss the rain already!

When was the last time you slept on the floor?
probably on Rachel's dorm room floor back in '02... sleepovers have lost their glamor since then

How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
at least 6, preferably 8

Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages?
sometimes. I look if it's a particularly bad food or if I'm curious, but not constantly.

Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
Pretty much constantly... except in informal things like e-mails and instant messages.

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
I was once at an amusement park that has since turned into a Six Flags. Does that count?

Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex?
I get along with people or I don't. Their gender is irrelevant on an individual scale.

Do you like cottage cheese?
Sure do, but it has to be the real stuff, none of that low-fat crap.

Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back?
I sleep on my bed.

Have you ever bid for something on eBay?
nope, never

Do you enjoy giving hugs?
Sure, although less with smelly people.

What song did you last sing out loud?
something at church, probably something in Latin

Which celebrity, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?
Oh, I think I could handle a sit-down with George Clooney. Or Kirk Cameron--and I'd fill his head with Catholic apologetics--because he doesn't have his fact straight (and I like a challenge). But he has to leave his monkey at home, that Ray guy. Because he's an idiot.

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Wow, serious butterflies, probably when I first met The Boy's parents about a year ago. Last little butterflies, maybe a few weeks ago. I don't remember.

What one thing do you wish you had?
Something blue to wear down the aisle: I can't think of anything that won't show, and I don't want to wear blue undies. The garter is black and white. Any ideas?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Auto-Wash

Not only do we have automatic paper towel dispensers in restrooms now, but we also have automatic soap dispensers and infrared water faucets. I'm not so sure this is a good idea.

The paper towel dispenser was pretty neat at first. I waved my wet hands in front of a little red eye, and the dispenser shot out a 2" by 2" square of paper that would only be good for one finger. Instead of measuring the amount of paper I want by using a lever, I have to wave my hands wildly in front of the new machines five or six times to get enough paper to thoroughly dry my hands. The dispensers have settings that can be adjusted to dispense the tiniest amount of paper (or a reasonable amount if you know how to get inside).

Now we have auto soap too. Because apparently it's not sanitary to touch a soap dispenser. Instead of taking the one second to press a pump, we now have to spend ten or more seconds trying to figure out how to wave our hands/elbows/nose just right to make a half-pump of soap dispense from the magically hidden container. Are we being lazy or being safer?

The clincher for me many times is the auto water. As if I'm too stupid or it's too gross to have to use a water faucet. The automatic ones are so frustrating! They are often not labeled or have directions about where to place my hands in order to make the water turn on. Then, mid-wash, I'll get all lathered up and accidentally shift forward a millimeter so that the water turns off. I have to spend another thirty seconds trying to make the water turn on again, my hands moving all around flinging soap, water, germs, and who knows what else I managed to get on there from the sink, mirror, and counter hoping there was a magic button to make the madness end!

What happened to lifting handles and pressing levers to make water turn on? I'm all for water conservation, but I'm not for being so frustrated that I end up not wanting to wash my hands at all. My favorite faucet method is still the little step-on bar under the sink: no hands to get messy, plus it turns off automatically when I walk away. Solutions exist... they just aren't as fancy as infrared technology.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still Growing Up

After a very difficult week last week and a trying start to this week, I spent a few emotional moments on my bed last night. The Boy and I are finally starting to grind our gears as well. I knew we couldn't last forever without fighting, so I guess I'm actually glad we're at the point we are. Thankfully, we are both mature and handle things fairly well. At least we've managed to get through everything without much difficulty so far.

The subject matter isn't important. I'm not here to air dirty laundry. The point of my story is that I bottled up all of those emotions for days and days until they all came boiling out of me last night in a quiet, tearful moment. Some of those little things from long ago that I had hidden so deep inside me that I'd completely forgotten about them... they came up again too. The feelings haven't changed. Between work and relationships and trying to be a responsible adult, I still feel inadequate. I feel like I'm not good enough and that no matter how hard I try, the bricks will still crumble.

I'm still growing up. Realizing that is a hard pill to swallow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Case of the Construction Workers: Part 2

Last week, I ranted about the construction workers we have had in our office lately. They are installing new fiber optic cables. And, as I mentioned before, they are messy and loud. I know there is some noise inherent to construction work, but shouting and swearing is certainly not part of the job.

Today, though, today they went too far. You see, sometimes my coworkers and I like to take treats into the office to share with each other. We bring in donuts on occasion, or sometimes someone takes a fresh loaf of bread. We usually leave these treats on the counter in the copy room where people can come and go as they please. I can see the copy room just beyond my desk. As I was working, I happened to look up and caught the construction workers standing around a loaf of fresh bread just chomping away.

It's not that they were eating the bread as much as that they didn't ask and didn't clean up first. After handing drills, drywall, dust, dirt, grease, grime, and who-knows-what-else, they were pawing all over the loaf as they hacked into it with a saw. That's right, they used their saw instead of the bread knife we had sitting there.

I'm all for sharing bread--especially when we had more than we could eat--but contaminating it and making it unfit for others' consumption was more than I could take. My boss wasn't phased. Nothing was said, nothing will be done. They won't get a note or a talking to...

Even worse, I'm told they ate food that was supposed to be for a big conference upstairs. Seriously? Where do these construction workers get the idea that they can get away with this behavior? I'm not sure where to complain to other than through my bloggy here, so this is my outlet. Sorry if it's repetitive and seems whiny, but things like this bother me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Guest Takeover

This blog post goes out to all individuals with special diets. If you are a vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, or generally don't like food, I have a question:

If you invited yourself over to stay at someone's house, don't you think you'd at least provide or help to prepare your food if you need to eat a non-traditional diet?

I eat meat, veggies, and grains like most people, but I'm picky. Thus, if I was unwilling to eat or at least try what the hosting family provided, I would simply ask for a peanut butter sandwich. That doesn't take extra prep time--I'd make it myself even--nor is it expensive.

Recently, I heard a story about a woman who not only invited herself over to stay at another family's house for a few days, but she demanded they cook vegetarian food for her. The family had to purchase and prepare special food just for her. Being the gracious and kind people that they are, the family didn't put up a fight and simply went along with things.

For diabetics or people with allergies, absolutely. You have every right to ask for special food. But since when does having a different food lifestyle grant the right to demand someone else provide your room and board?!

Am I just crazy here, or did this person cross the line?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekend o' Wedding Stuff

The Boy and I made a serious dent in our wedding to-do list in the last two days. We visited both sets of parents and managed to get a majority of the addresses for our invitations. I planned for, designed, and created my garter and the bridesmaids' jewelry. We deliberated on some music. We scoped out the church for a few more ideas and decisions. We discussed honeymoon options. It doesn't sound like much, I guess, but some of those are huge leaps!

In addition, I designed and printed The Boy's graduation announcements and am in the process of hand-lettering the envelopes. I also had time to invent a new dinner food tonight--and the quasi-stir fry was pretty good.

Tomorrow includes hiking, more planning, some cooking, and then our marriage prep classes begin. Four weeks of those to get through before the end of June... and then it's the downhill slide into summer.

I don't like summer...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Facebook Fan

I am not a "fan" of the feature on Facebook that allows people to show what products, people, or ideas they are "fans" of.  If you like a product, that's cool.  But don't become a walking billboard for Pepsi.  Don't share the brand name of a product with me unless you have something more to say about it than, "well, I just like it."

I couldn't care less.  Really.  In fact, if there was a way on Facebook to turn that particular feature off, I would.  I would turn off your likes.  I would ignore your likes and continue living as if I'd never seen what product or person you like.

Why?  Why do people insist on promoting Clyde Drexler or clover honey or see-through notebooks?  Maybe the idea of social networking is beyond me... I just don't care.

Jaggy is NOT a fan of anyone who says they are a fan of something else on Facebook.  So there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Year Anniversary

I had every intention of blogging yesterday.  It just didn't happen.  The Boy and I went to my parents' house for dinner.  My father and The Boy also got haircuts, and Mom shared her wisdom about marriage with us.  By the time I got home, showered, and wound down a bit, I was too tired to drool on a pillow.  Lemme tell ya, that's tired.

So then I had even more intention of blogging something ultra-fantastic tonight.  But dinner got started late and took longer than I'd hoped.  I became absorbed in the task of making boutonnieres for my wedding.  After a shower and relaxing for just a minute, I sat down at the computer with a horrible case of writer's block.

You see, today is my one-year anniversary with The Boy.  We have officially been dating one amazing year.  We'll be married in October, so neither of us will ever celebrate this one day again.  From now on, we'll only have "real" anniversaries.  Just this once, we both get to celebrate the "dating" kind of anniversary, and the longer I type, the less time I get to celebrate with him.

Between the writer's block and the fact that I just want to go curl up in The Boy's arms for a movie, I'm left without much to say.  So I'm going to go away until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Banana Bread

Last week, I purchased some bananas in the hopes of eating them.  I like bananas, so it wasn't a far-fetched idea.  However, as is typical, I only ate a few of them.  Three didn't make the cut.  They turned brown too fast for me to gobble down.  I don't mean age spots in a week, I mean brown.

This morning, I set out on a quest to make Grandma's special homemade banana nut bread recipe.  The bread was a huge treat for me growing up, and now I'm all grown up and can make it for myself.  After a call to Mom to get the recipe, and after amassing the ingredients, I began the adventure.

Well, I tried to begin the adventure.  You see, even in my fairly well-stocked kitchen, I somehow have not yet managed to get a flour-shortening combining tool thingy... you know, the wooden handle with the little thumb-pressy-downy part and the six or eight wire half-circles on the other side... I don't even know what those are called.  Whatever they are, I don't have one.  So I used a fork.  To cut shortening into flour.  Let's just say it was a tedious process.

Then I mashed bananas.  And stirred eggs.  And measured, scooped, poured, and stirred the other ingredients.  I combined it all together, dumped the batter into two well-greased ancient bread pans (older than the dirt they came out of), and baked the goop into bread.

And then I ate it.  And it was soooooooooo good.  Because I left the nuts out.  Nuts don't go in bread.  In fact, I'm not really sure what nuts are good for.  Bananas are for bread that goes in my belly!

Sorry, no recipe this time.  It's a super-secret recipe that I couldn't even find online.  Online recipes don't often call for shortening anymore.  The good stuff always gets cut out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Directionally Challenged

I can't stand driving directions that come from computers. On our adventure to Portland this last week, Rachel and I encountered some of the worst driving directions we've seen. Not only did we become lost in Portland (and we're both good with maps), we didn't even know how to become un-lost without asking for directions. Sure, eventually, if we had kept driving in any one direction we would have found a major road, but urban sprawl is ugly!

How bad were the directions? Just to give you an idea of what we encountered, this is similar to what the directions said:

Go north toward exit 45. (15 miles)
Take exit 36 to Beantown. (3 miles)
Turn left on Beantown Road. (8 miles)
Turn left on Grassy Avenue. (0.44 feet)

First, why would anyone give directions that send someone to an exit waaaaaay beyond the turn they need to make? Why say "go to exit 45" when I need to "turn at exit 36"? WHY!? Why can't the directions say "From interstate 004, take exit 36"? I can understand if they said, "follow the interstate north toward Seattle (or even Canada)" if you know that you're staying within Oregon. You know that if you hit Seattle, you've gone too far. Don't give me landmarks to drive toward, give me directions that make sense.

The other gripe I have about internet-based driving directions is their inability to determine driver reaction time. If I exit a freeway onto a side road, I need to know in advance what lane to be in. Sometimes they say to take an exit and turn left, but they send you on another immediate left or right that means several quick lane changes that are impossible. We encountered that yesterday in downtown Portland. It was not fun!

I've heard of driving directions sending people on logging roads or worse to save time. It's insane how off-road or difficult the paths can be. Something must be done. I'm taking maps next time for sure, not only to counteract the awful driving directions, but also to see what other options are available in case I can't follow the directions the computer gave me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My First MAX Ride

Rachel and I left Albany by 8:30am and made it to Portland without a problem. We didn't take a single wrong turn the whole way to the Lloyd Center where we deposited the truck and set out on the day's mission: ride the MAX from the Lloyd Center to an undisclosed location in downtown Portland (we knew the location, but I'm not sharing it here) in order to determine ride length and feasibility for 150 people in the next few months.

We stopped to ask for directions and a suggestion for a lunchtime pit stop. The concierge we spoke to was exceptionally helpful and kind. He told us which MAX stop to get on and off at, and then he shared with us the secret of how to return to the same place without getting lost. Because there's a secret apparently.

We found the station and waited for the next MAX to arrive. As this was our first experience ever riding, it was totally new (and admittedly a bit scary--you hear stories about people getting on alive and being carted off not alive all the time on the news). We didn't need to pay fares or get tickets because we stayed within fareless square the entire time. Thankfully, we managed to get seats for the ride downtown. We rode through stop after stop until we crossed the river and beyond. Finally, we debarked the big train thingy into downtown. After confirming the MAX time and orienting ourselves to the Grid o' Chaos that is downtown, we wandered around for a short while getting walking distance times. We followed the secret the concierge had mentioned and got back onto the MAX without incident. Having to stand the whole way back wasn't so fun--seats are way better for the ride--but we made it. No deaths occurred while we rode. In fact, the whole ride was incredibly peaceful. Why isn't there a rail transit like that in Corvallis?!

Lunch found us in Lloyd Center's "foodcourtia." Being daring (and at Rachel's insistence), I tried a new food from some little mediterranean joint there. My first experience with lamb was not as pleasant as I'd hoped. While it didn't kill me, I wasn't impressed. Curried rice and some horrific "salad" rounded out my $9 adventure with food. I can't stand curry! UGH!

We left downtown Portland in search of other venues. The good news is that we had directions. The bad news is that the directions took us to somewhere. We only made it to one venue before the directions became useless. Upon review, it appears the directions wanted us to turn left when we needed to be going right. We went from just off I-5 to somewhere beyond Oregon City before we realized we needed to turn around pronto. We stopped at a real estate office to get directions out of town. Thankfully, the nice woman at the front desk pointed us toward I-205. We were back on the road and headed the correct direction in no time.

After another adventure trying to find the correct exit, we managed to get onto 99W for the drive home. Several stops along the way, a harrowing driveway entrance or five, and being in the sun the entire day left me exhausted by the end. I was dehydrated and bleary-eyed. My blog post was pathetic. But I survived my first MAX ride. I survived driving down tiny streets in Portland with crazy bicyclists. I survived Portland (again).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sun-Drenched and Weary

Today was an adventure. I'll blog about it tomorrow as I am too exhausted to even begin the story tonight. Before I go, though, allow me to offer one tiny bit of hard-earned wisdom today:

Maps. Don't go into unfamiliar territory without a map. And a compass. But especially the maps.

I hate Portland.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Almost Catholic

"Oh, come on, do you really believe everything those Catholics believe?" a coworker asked me today. I know this person has some odd beliefs of their own, so I wasn't exactly stunned by the question. What surprised me more was my own answer. Without flinching, I popped back, "yeah, sure I do."

When people ask me what my faith is or what group I identify with, I respond, "Catholic." I'm not sure I can honestly call myself anything else. Baptized or not, that's where my faith calls home most.

I don't meant to say that I agree 100% with everything the Church teaches. I have trouble with things, and I struggle to understand other parts. But I'm growing still. I have a lot to learn. The whole Pope idea still bothers me at times. *human* but *superhuman* doesn't really make sense. And while I understand the Church's stance on the point of marriage as creating children, I still don't see the harm in using contraceptive, non-abortive methods of family planning. Condoms don't kill humans: they prevent conception. And believe me, with the failure rate of imperfectly used (and even perfectly used) contraception, if God really plans for someone to get pregnant, it can still happen.

Ugh, I digress. The Catholic Church is a hard pill to swallow for me, but I'm getting there. I'm identifying. I'm falling in love and dislike and annoyance and joy and fear and hope.

Gettin' Fruity

Don't get me wrong here, I am all for knowing where your food comes from. However, the whole organic movement doesn't sit right with me. Any time people try to make money by inciting fear over something, it bothers me. "Oh my gosh, you can't eat that, it might have been pollinated by the wind! Only bees pollinate, only special bees. You don't know where the wind came from."

Lately, The Boy and I have been trying to find more fruit and substitute that in our diets rather than pasta pasta pasta pizza pasta every week. My mother just did a double-take there, I'm sure. She tried to get me to eat fruit all the time growing up. Other than the occasional apple or handful of grapes, she failed. And no, I'm not fruit crazy yet: oranges still disgust me both by taste and texture. In small doses, I can tolerate citrus smells, but up close, ugh. No way am I eating it. Not even the juice.

I bought a few bananas, and we both buy apples now. The Boy found some "canned" peaches ("canned" because they're in plastic jars). When I find grapes in the store that aren't from Chile (DDT still used there!), I try to get them. When watermelon comes back into season, the Hermiston coops are going to get a bunch of my money. The Boy and I go watermelon crazy! Kiwis are another favorite, but since they're never really in season around here, I don't get many. Strawberries are another favorite, but I'm waaaay too picky about those to buy anything that comes from a supermarket. I only buy them when I get to pick them fresh myself.

The organic foods around here just don't look good though. The organic apples are softer and mealy. The organic bananas go brown or even black before I can get to them. I haven't even seen organic grapes. My favorite apples, gravensteins, aren't available anywhere in town either organically-grown or covered in caramel ('cuz that stuff will kill you, gloriously happy). One of my coworkers has an old gravenstein orchard, and he gives me all the apples I can handle for free during the harvest, but one person can only do so much with the apples.

Tonight, I'm scarfing down a banana with a whole wheat english muffin, toasted, very lightly buttered, and topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. The muffin will be toasted, not the banana. Always makes a mess when I try to squish that in the toaster.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Hear You in my Ear

Inevitable. The days were numbered. Soon, all drivers in Oregon will have to use hands-free devices if they want to make calls while driving. No word has been said about whether it will be okay to pull over to the side of the road and make a call using a phone to your ear. I personally don't see a problem with that: you're off the road. Just make sure you get off the road.

I purchased a Bluetooth earpiece several months ago and used it fairly successfully a few times since then. However, it doesn't fit quite right so it's uncomfortable to wear for very long. It also doesn't get the best connection at times. But it's "safer" so I continue to use it.

These little earpieces seem to have one consistent flaw, though. They don't always call who I tell them to call. Using the hands-free dialing, my conversation with the earpiece went something like this:

Phone: *beeeeeeeep* "Say a command."
Me: "Call someone."
Phone: "Command unrecognized. Say a command."
Me: "CALL someone, dammit."
Phone: "Say a name."
Me: "Mom."
Phone: "Did you say, 'Dad'?"
Me: "No."
Phone: "Did you say, 'Grandma'?"
Me: "No, you idiot, I said 'Mom.'"
Phone: "Say a name."
Me: "You're a bad phone."
Phone: "Calling Dad..."

At this point I had to take the earpiece out of my ear, grab my phone to quickly hang up on my father, and avert my eyes from the precious empty road. Another time, I asked the phone to call my sister, it confirmed, "Calling Sister..." and called a friend instead. Because I wasn't looking at the phone to see who was being called, I didn't even know what to say when a male voice answered instead of my sister's. I asked, "Hello, is this... is my sister there?" The voice replied, "No, do you know who you called?" While driving with an earpiece, I had to pick up the phone and look to see who I'd called.

You tell me which is safer: using one-button dialing to get the person I want and hold onto the phone, or potentially dial the wrong person, have to retrieve my phone from my pocket, open it, and view my phone's activities using multiple buttons. Not to mention having the earpiece potentially fall out while I'm driving.

Yes, there's always the option to not talk while driving. There's also the option to not eat, smoke, or drink water out of a water bottle. There's the option to not have screaming children in the back seat demanding attention. There's the option to not allow anyone over fifty-years-old to not drive. There's the option to ban driving after dark. How about we remove driving entirely, including buses and trains: everyone must be forced to walk!

I just wish my phone earpiece would dial the correct numbers. That's all I'm asking.

Monday, May 11, 2009

His First Stomping Grounds

I had the fantastic opportunity this weekend to see where my fiance grew up. We walked through the church and elementary school. The church was built in the traditional style with all those fun Latin church terms like "nave" and "transept" and "chancel." I was impressed by the length of the nave and the awesome silence. Maybe it's me (and it likely is), but smaller churches or plain churches don't have that resounding, reverent, purposeful silence. It takes an organ, a high ceiling, and clacking of rosary beads to induce such a profound silence.

The Boy's elementary school was... quaint. That's almost an unfortunate term because it wasn't quaint in that mocking kind of way, but small and cute and like elementary schools in movies where there aren't marks on the walls or safety glass with metal wires in between them. The halls were carpeted, the paint fresh, and the full-size lockers matching up and down both sides of the well-lit hallway.

Compare that to my elementary school where the toilet stalls were often missing doors, the water undrinkable and barely running, and cracked chalkboards. Our mismatched tile flooring and cracked and peeling lead-based paint hid asbestos and mice. If only I was exaggerating! I could say that my school buildings built character. The buildings had character. They had echoes and creaking noises and loud ventilation. Part of me misses it, but I'm also glad they tore down that health hazard of a building.

I had a great time exploring The Boy's first stomping grounds. One thing seems to be sure: it's not the building that makes a school. We both had great teachers who were invested in our education. Parents played a large role in that--and we are both thankful for our good teachers and great parents. Trite, maybe, but true.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In Transit

I ordered my wedding dress on the 27th of March. It still hasn't arrived. I finally called the shop to see what happened to my order. In broken but firm English, the woman informed me that the dress was at her shop and "on da way" to me. Hopefully it will be here by the end of the week. And no, I won't post pictures when it does arrive. It's a wedding dress, not pink fuzzy slippers. If you want to see the dress, you'll have to wait until the wedding or until I get pictures posted here after the honeymoon.

Maybe it's me, but I always wondered what it is that makes people want to see the wedding dress before anyone else or before the wedding day. Will seeing the bride's dress help you understand the gravity of wedding vows better? Does it make people feel special and like they're on the "inside" as opposed to those silly commoners who have to wait until The Big Day? Does seeing the dress beforehand help people see what the "vision" is as far as formality and theme? I don't get it. Even as a bridesmaid, I didn't see Emily's dress until the day of her wedding.

And I'm sure there are a few people who are ready to throw me in a river over what they view as selfishness. Call me selfish. I don't care. I don't feel the need to reveal the one dress I get to wear on the most special, wonderful, important day of my life. Until I hear a good reason to divulge pictures or a personal showing, I'm keeping things under wraps.

In any case, the dress isn't here still. It's "in transit" until late this week if everything goes according to the plan. I've even paid the credit card bill off already! Sheesh.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Lure of Easy

My car has learned how to steer itself to Burger King. Tonight, I was running some errands after work and wasn't in the mood to make dinner. The car magically turned toward the nearest heart-attack-inducing burger joint. I resisted, but the wheel turned ever so slightly that it won me over. As I neared the parking lot entrance, a final scream from the little angel on my shoulder warning me against the yummy fries caused me to firmly grasp the steering wheel and yank myself out of the wafting grease fumes.

I was hungry and lazy. I still am hungry and lazy. But the chicken is baking in the oven, and I'm going to cut it up and put it on a salad. My arteries are smiling. :)

A little thinking on the drive home had me musing. Is it the actual fast food that is bad for us, or is it simply the way the fast food gets prepared that makes it so bad? I decided to do a little digging. Using the coolest nutrition website I've encountered, I worked some figures. Mind you, I kept the recipe the same for each burger ('cuz that's all I eat there).

Home-cooked 1/4lb 90%-lean hamburger with 1 slice american cheese, ketchup, and bun:
359 Calories
16g Fat
85g Cholesterol
1764mg Sodium
28g Protein
24g Carbohydrates

Homemade french fries, baked (who really has a deep fryer at home anyway?):
134 Calories
6g Fat
0g Cholesterol
194mg Sodium
2g Protein
28g Carbohydrates

Burger King cheeseburger, ketchup only:
360 Calories
17g Fat
50mg Cholesterol
790g Sodium
19g Protein
31g Carbohydrates

Small fry:
245 Calories
13g Fat
0 Cholesterol
337mg Sodium
3g Protein
31g Carbohydrates

McDonald's cheeseburger, ketchup only:
330 Calories
14g Fat
45mg Cholesterol
800mg Sodium
15g Protein
35g Carbohydrates

Small fry:
224 Calories
11g Fat
0g Cholesterol
161mg Sodium
3g Protein
28g Carbohydrates

As you can see, the best choice for fries is the ones made at home and baked. The fat content and total Calories makes the home-baked option a no-brainer. Given the option, though, it appears that McDonald's fries are a better choice compared to Burger King's.

The homemade hamburger was fairly similar to the fast food burgers, but the protein content was dramatically higher while the overall carbohydrate content was much lower. That's good: healthy protein is great for the muscles and brain, and the leaner meat means less risk of heart disease (but who are we kidding, it's a burger). The homemade burger seems to have much more sodium, but I'd attribute it to the cheese. If you substituted a favorite gourmet cheese, a low-sodium cheese, or left that off entirely, the sodium content could drop considerably. I should also mention that it's totally okay to doctor up a homemade burger with tons of veggies! That increases nutritional content without tossing on carbs, fat, or even more calories.

Most nutritionists agree that eating fast food like that listed here isn't a good idea. However, a broiled burger and a small fry order with water or a diet beverage won't kill you. Burgerville, a chain of burger joints in the Pacific Northwest offers locally-grown options. I'm promoting the homemade route, but I'm the kind of person that likes to know where her beef comes from.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Enter Key

I have blogged previously about some of the hilarous and groan-inducing tech support calls I've handled at work.  I was sure that the guy who thought there was more than one version of the Internet was bad.  Then I got a call from a guy who thought numbers could be capitalized.  Today... I am sure that today took first place in "oh you did not just say that!"

The call came in around 9:30am, and we started off on great terms.  He was a super nice older gentleman who wanted access to our secure website.  I told him he'd need to register to use the site and that I'd walk him through the registration process.  First question was about his browser, and we determined he didn't have Firefox and would need to download it.  When I asked him if he had ever downloaded something before and he replied no, "I don't even know how to do that," I knew we were in for a rough road.  I pointed him to Mozilla's homepage to begin the downloading process.

Me: "Type mozilla.com in your address bar."
Him: "Where is my address? I don't see it."
Me: "Not your address, your address bar.  Where you see http://.  At the top of your screen.  Do you see where the website address is?"
Him: "Oh, yes, I see http://.  Put my address there?"
Me: "No, type mozilla.com, m-o-z-i-l-l-a-dot-c-o-m."
Him: "Okay, mozilla.com, I'm typing, but I'm a slow typer."
Me: "Great, now can you press the enter key to bring up the page?"
Him: "I don't see the 'enter' button on the screen.  I see *mumbles* and pictures."
Me: "No, the enter key, the one on your keyboard."
Him: "What, where?"
Me: "The enter key.  On your keyboard.  The big thing with buttons all over it in front of you, a big one near the center says 'enter' or 'return' on it.  Press that."
Him: "Oh.  *presses button* Ooooh, the screen changed!  Is that bad?"
Me: "No, that's good.  Did it bring up a page that says 'Download Firefox'?"
Him: "Yes."

We walked through the entire downloading process.  Once, when I asked him to tell me if Firefox had created an icon on his desktop, he started describing his desktop to me.  "I have a telephone on the corner, and I have a keyboard in front of me... oh, and I spilled some coffee earlier but didn't clean it up yet."  OY!  I explained to him the difference between a physical desktop and a computer desktop.  He informed me that, yes, there was a Firefox icon (finally!).  He opened Firefox sucessfully.  We got all the way to the registration page when he had trouble with the "enter" key again.

After forty-five minutes on the phone with a super nice guy, I was exhausted.  He called back again later to walk through the last two things he needed to do to finish up, and I get to talk to him again in a few days once he receives the rest of his info in the mail.

Holy freaking crap.  The enter key...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How do I know we'll make it?

Before I started dating The Boy, I was perfectly healthy. It's only since I started dating him that all manner of weird things have happened to my body. My allergies have gone from mild to medicated. My use of medications went from one or two Aleve pills for the occasional ache or pain to being on at least three daily pills and then more for other stuff as needed. I've had six different kinds of infections (from last weekend's UTI to skin infections to yeast infections). I've been to the doctor seven times in the last year, a 700% increase over the last fifteen years combined. I've had to explain to The Boy things about my body that I'm not sure I'd be comfortable explaining in a strict laboratory setting with doctors.

So when people ask me how I know we're made for each other, I remember back to the many times I've had to report back to Mr. Wonderful that I'm sick, broken, or hurt in one of the various ways I could be ill. He's held my hand through shots, comforted me through migraines (another new development), reminded me to take pills, and teased me the whole damn time.

It might seem silly to those who haven't been there, but when one part of a couple faces uncertainty with an illness, it definitely brings out character traits in both people. How do I know The Boy is mine for sure? He hasn't been scared, hasn't walked away from a single illness, hasn't flinched as I informed him of a less-than-optimal diagnosis, and hasn't stopped teasing me about whatever it was that made me feel icky.

Allow me to put it another way: after this week's UTI, I couldn't resist informing Mr. Wonderful that I was peeing neon orange. Instead of gasping or groaning or cringing, he shrugged his shoulders, kissed me on the forehead, and went back to his video game.

We'll make it. :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Changes Ahead

Deciding to marry The Boy was comparatively easy to what I've faced in the last two months.  Both of us met with a couple priests to discuss our future, and we have been blessed to get answers we can live with.  A priest outside our local parish is willing to baptize me in the near future.  The process will bit unorthodox as I won't be confirmed at the same time, though I will take communion.  I can go through an RCIA process once The Boy and I get settled, and then I will be confirmed.

Being baptized isn't something I've walked into lightly.  I took more than a year to look at religion and ask myself what I wanted out of my life.  The Boy's quiet strength and patience with me has helped, but he never once forced me to do anything.  I worry that people will see me getting baptized before our marriage and think that I'm converting because of The Boy.  I wonder if they think I'm doing it for him instead of me.  I don't know how to convince anyone otherwise, so I guess I'll just have to tell the truth: I'm doing it for me.

Coming from a non-Catholic (and even anti-Catholic) family makes me concerned too.  I worry that my family will think that I'm going to spend the rest of our lives trying to convert them (not true in the least) or that they'll be pulled into the RCC in some way or another.  I worry that they'll think I'm going to turn into a slave to my husband (even though the RCC treats women better than any Protestant faith I've seen) or that I'm going to be popping out kids for the next fifteen years (hehe, NO).

It's a big step.  It's one big hairy scary step.  But it's something I can and am doing for me.  I'm really going to do it.  I'm going to give myself a label.  I'm going to become something that no one else in my family has done.  I'm going to forge ahead and grow in new and exciting ways.

Any advice?

Urine: Threat Level Orange

I am so sorry. Let's start with that, okay? I'm sorry. This entire post may cross some people's line of blog-appropriate. It very well may cross my line of blog-appropriate. But this post is true. It's about events that actually happened to me this weekend. Stop reading now if you want--that's fine--I'll be back tomorrow with less sensitive stuff. Close the window, go make dinner, and come back tomorrow.

For those of you that have chosen to stick around, I'd like to take this moment to inform you that I'm peeing orange. Not just a little off-color, but flaming napalm orange. The best part: it's a good thing!

You see, sitting in a car for eight hours a day, two days in a row, in addition to being pretty dehydrated, not having the option to pee whenever I wanted, and my genetic predisposition (thanks, Mom) all meant I was bound for a urinary tract infection.

First, let me describe my UTI history. When I was little, I told Mommy that it hurt when I went to the bathroom. She took me to see the doctor, he not-so-delicately shoved a catheter up me, and more or less cured me from ever telling her that it hurt to pee again. I've had a few UTIs in the last twenty-plus years, but none have required any sort of treatment other than drinking more.

Sunday morning, though, my urine was distinctly cloudy. By the time we stopped in Biggs, I was not feeling very well. At Bonneville Dam, I could tell there was blood in my urine. Sweet Tomates found me in a state beyond my blog-appropriate line. I informed The Boy that we'd be heading straight for immediate care in Corvallis instead of going home. Blood in urine seemed like a big enough deal to me to warrent a trip to professionals. We went straight there, I got to pee in a cup (not so easy, let me tell ya), and then we waited.

The doctor finally arrived, informed me that I wasn't dying, that I had a "massive urinary tract infection," and that I'd be feeling better soon. She gave me three prescriptions, asked if I had questions, and we were on our way. Easy cheesy lemony squeezy. Well, orange-y squeezy. You see, one of the drugs she gave me to make me stop hurting (and I hurt!), Phenazopyridine, makes me urinate NEON FREAKING ORANGE.

It's like someone filled me full of Tang when I wasn't watching, and now I am the Kool-Aid pitcher character running on hyperdrive. Just tip me over and pour me out!

Yes, I still hurt, but the hurt is much less now than yesterday. I'm not enjoying the horse pills, do NOT like having to swallow them, and really can't wait to be done with them. I'm sucking down juice, water, pop, tea... I don't even like tea. At least I should be better by the end of the week.

Well, except for my mental state. Peeing blazing orange... not as cool as I thought it would be.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Road Trip: La Grande

I have seen more counties in the last two days than I cared to, but it was all for a good cause: a wedding! The Boy and I set out on our road trip at 5:00 on Saturday morning from Corvallis and arrived in La Grande by 11:30am. We took one wrong turn (my fault), stopped twice, and ate about a dozen cookies on the drive. Venturing north to Portland was a breeze as no one was awake yet. We hit Highway 84 just as the roads were getting busy in the big city, but at least the traffic died out as we left Gresham. I drove the first leg to Cascade Locks where we stopped to stretch and walk for a few minutes. We had to deal with rain the entire way over, but for the few minutes we were at Cascade Locks, it was only drizzling. Neat little stop! The Boy drove us to Pendleton where we filled up the car with gas. We tried to find a place to eat, but it was not an easy town to navigate. We ended up pushing straight on to La Grande, opting for more homemade cookies instead of spending money at restaurants we couldn't find.

Central Oregon isn't my favorite part of Oregon by any means, and I've spent quite a bit of time vacationing there, so I had no great expectations for eastern Oregon. The gorge was socked in with a storm, and the road so long and straight with no trees... until we crossed Cabbage Hill, I was thoroughly unimpressed. La Grande, though, was pretty. They have more of the evergreen trees I love, and the Grande Ronde river is nice. It reminded me more of home than the previous three hundred miles.

We ate a horrible lunch at the KFC in town (why? why do I do that to my body? YUCK!) before picking up The Boy's tuxedo for the wedding. A short drive to the hotel for an early check-in, then to the church and reception hall to help set up. Doesn't seem so hard, right? By noon, we'd already been awake eight hours after very little sleep. The Boy stood patiently for pictures while I lazed around the church trying to help where I could. Advice to anyone who is an accessory at a wedding: take a book, a deck of cards, a roll of duct tape, and ear plugs. After three weddings in the last nine months, that's the best I've come up with. If you don't know what the ear plugs are for, then don't use them. I wish I'd had them though.

The wedding was beautiful. Not sure what else to say about it... it was a typical Protestant church wedding... there was a bride and groom, some tears, and vows exchanged. The bride wore white. The groom wore black. The pews were padded. I saw Bibles in the backs of each pew. Candles. Flowers. Stained glass. It was a nice wedding.

The reception was just as exciting as the wedding for me. I hadn't eaten anything but cookies and awful mashed potatoes in twelve hours, and the buffet had one food I liked: rolls. I realize I'm picky (I make no illusions about that), but when I don't eat pork and can't stand it when someone else puts salad dressing on my salad (sooooooaking it), it was a long evening. The cake was pretty good though.

By 8:00pm, The Boy and I were ready to drop. We waited until the bride and groom left, and then we bee-lined it for the hotel. Lumpy pillows, un-flannel sheets, and a noisy mini-fridge kept me up longer than I wanted. So tired! So cranky! So just wanting to go to sleep and not move one inch for eight hours! Alas, it was not to be.

We were up, fed, and on the road again by 8:30am. I drove us through snow and ice over Cabbage Hill on the way back (clear the day before!), and we lunched near Hermiston around 10:00am. The Boy drove us to Biggs (?) where we stopped to stretch and switch, and then I drove us to Bonneville Dam where we got out for some sightseeing. The dam is huge, much larger in scope than I realized at first, and we could have spent all afternoon there if it wasn't for me feeling awful.

After a late lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, another hundred miles, and stopping at a hospital for me, we finally arrived home about 6:00pm yesterday. I'm fine, by the way. Road trips and I have a track record now. It will be a long, long, long time before I travel to the east side of this state again. Hooray for not sitting in a car bouncing from side to side anymore. *sigh*

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Far Far Away

As you read this post, I'm sitting on the east side of Oregon enjoying a beautiful wedding. I get to stay the night over there in the Land of No Grass and Trees and Shady Rivers. Yay.

What that means is this post isn't fresh. I wrote it several days ago realizing I'd be gone and wouldn't be able to blog. I wouldn't be able to drop you a tiny nugget of my life. So here it is, in advance, well before anything has happened.

Right now, at this moment, I might be eating dinner. I could be swimming in a hotel pool. I might be lounging on my hotel bed watching TV or reading. But I am not blogging. I get to take a blogging vacation.

As I'm writing this, though, I am eating dinner, blogging, listening to my laundry spin, hoping my cookies don't burn, and praying that The Boy comes over soon so that I can figure out what else we need to pack for this wedding shindig.

Enjoy my non-stressed post. I wrote it just for you. Yes you. Oh, and for Grandma. Because if I don't post something every day, she e-mails me wanting to know if I'm alive. I'm still alive (I hope) as this post is here for you. Be happy.

I'm happy. I get a whole day away from the computer!

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Slave to the Machine

I put five quarters in and expected one pop to come out. But the vending machine upstairs had other ideas. It apparently was under the impression that five quarters in means no pop out. So I kicked it.

I kicked it gooooood.

And nothing happened. Ugh. So I called the number on the front of the vending machine to rant my frustrations, but the nice-ish (read: patronizingly sweet) lady at PepsiCo informed me that I'd have to trudge far and wide to get my five quarters back. Not wanting to subject myself to the 70° sunny weather outside, I opted instead to call my trusty finacĂ© who was also on campus at the time. A rough transcript of our conversation:

Him: Hi Babe.
Me: Hi, the vending machine ate my quarters and my pop.
Him: Addict.
Me: Jerk.
Him: Junkie.
Me: Will you please run over to the Big Building to get me five quarters?
Him: No. I have big manly things to do.
Me: Harumph.

Rachel came to my rescue shortly thereafter, we knocked one pop out with another, and I was able to quench my thirst with a glorious swig of fizziness.

Rachel is my hero. The Boy... not so much today.